Do you ever look around and think about how lucky we are to live on such an amazing and beautiful planet? Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, is an invitation to sit back and appreciate this magical place that we call home. It’s also a reminder of the need to protect our natural world and of the responsibility that each of us has to nurture our environment.

The 2023 Earth Day theme is “Invest in Our Planet.” And if you’re wondering how to celebrate Earth Day and do your part to create a healthier, more sustainable environment, we’ve got some ideas for you—including six ways to combat climate change through gardening.

Ready to plant the seed for a happier planet? Here’s where to start.

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What is Earth Day, and Why Is It Celebrated?

yellow flowers
The more you look around, the more you notice the beauty and life all around you. Photo by Skillshare student Chris Spack. 

Earth Day is an international event dedicated to spreading awareness about environmental responsibility as well as educating the public on environmental movements and energizing people to interact with the planet in more positive ways.

The event, which takes place every year on April 22, has been celebrated since 1970 and is currently overseen by EarthDay.org. It includes coordinated actions all around the globe, such as rallies, clean-ups, tree planting projects, and fundraisers, though you don’t need to partner with an organization to get involved.

It’s been more than 50 years since the first Earth Day, and while we’ve come a long way in our general understanding of how to care for the environment, we’re also living at a time when bold action is needed to preserve what we have. This year’s climate change theme speaks to the urgency of our situation and emphasizes just how essential it is that we all work together. And if you’re ready to invest in our planet, there are many millions of people around the world ready to join you in your efforts.

Why Do We Celebrate Earth Day on April 22?

John McConnell, a peace activist and the creator of Earth Day, originally intended for the event to fall on March 21, which is the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. It was U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson who suggested that the date be April 22 instead, since it coincided with the week between university spring breaks and final exams and was likely to have the highest amount of student participation.

Cultivate Your Green Thumb

Gardening 101: A Guide for Growing & Caring for Plants

Gardening to Combat Climate Change

If you’re wondering how to celebrate Earth Day, you’ll be glad to know that there are many ways to participate and make a difference. And one thing you can do to benefit the planet on Earth Day and beyond is to plant a garden and cultivate it in a way that’s specifically designed with sustainability in mind.

Whether you have acres of land, a tiny backyard garden, or just enough room for container planting, here are six ways to embrace the mission of Earth Day and plant a garden that’s not just stunning to look at but that goes the extra mile to keep your local environment safe.

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Beauty is only one of the benefits of a garden.

1. Grow Native Plants

Native plants are those that have evolved to thrive in your local environment. As a result, they’re ideally suited to the soil and climate of your garden and require less water and fertilizer in order to prosper.

By focusing on native species, you adapt to the preferences of the land instead of trying to get the land to adapt to your preferences. You also fill your garden with the plants that local insects and birds are most likely to prefer.  

2. Grow Plants That Don’t Require a Lot of Water

When gardening for the environment, try to xeriscape as much as you can. Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping that centers around plants with little or no water needs. In addition to reducing the amount of water you need to devote to your garden, this style of planting can naturally improve your soil quality. It’s also drought-resistant, which comes in handy in many climates.

3. Plant Perennials Instead of Annuals

Unlike annuals, perennials are planted once and return year after year. In doing so, they establish deeper root systems that better enrich the soil and propagate easier for additional plant growth. As a bonus, they also save you time and money since you don’t have to worry about replanting every spring.

4. Create an Edible Garden

Where you get your food from matters. And the more that you can plant at home, the less reliant you’ll be on herbs and produce sourced through inefficient means. What you grow in an edible garden is up to you (and your specific climate), but whatever you choose will help reduce your carbon footprint and add more carbon back into the soil for the benefit of the environment around you.

Hint: Tomatoes are one of the easiest edible plants to grow and will do great in both containers and in the ground. Check out our course on growing organic tomatoes to learn everything you need to know.  

5. Garden with Insects and Pollinators in Mind

Garden to attract insects, and you’ll protect local pollinators while minimizing—or even completely avoiding—the need to use chemical pesticides. Bees, butterflies, birds, and other pollinators tend to have a tough time finding food in neighborhoods that lack ecological diversity and are blanketed with big green lawns. By planting with their needs in mind, you’ll do them a great service, and one that they’ll be glad to repay you for by helping your plants bloom bigger and stay healthier for longer.

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Butterflies and other pollinators rely on gardeners to provide the plants they need to survive and thrive. Photo by Skillshare student Ellen Evers.

6. Compost and Reduce Landfill Waste

Composting keeps your food scraps out of the landfill, where they release carbon dioxide and methane into the environment. It also provides an ample food source for your plants—and for worms and other insects.

You can compost everything from fruit and veggie scraps to coffee grounds, eggshells, and even shredded paper and cardboard, and there are lots of innovative ways to do it. If you don’t have a yard and are simply maintaining houseplants or a small container garden, look and see if you have any local composting programs, which will either pick up your compost material weekly or provide you with a drop-off point. You can also look into ShareWaste, which connects people with composting materials with those who can put those materials to use.  

5 Interesting Facts About Earth Day

There’s more to Earth Day than you might think. Here are five interesting facts to help make you an Earth Day expert.

1. The very first Earth Day in 1970 brought out an awe-inspiring 20 million people in support of ecological protections.

2. For the first 20 years of its existence, Earth Day was only in the United States. In 1990, however, organizer Denis Hayes expanded it and turned Earth Day into the global event we know it as today.

3. We have Earth Day to thank for many major environmental protections in place in the U.S. today. It’s thought to have played a major role in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the passage of a number of key environmental laws, among them the Clean Air Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the National Environmental Education Act.

4. Earth Day is considered by many to be the largest secular observance in the world. Each year, it unites around a billion people toward the common cause of environmental protection.

5. In many countries, Earth Day is known as “International Mother Earth Day,” which is also the name bestowed on the event by the United Nations.

Garden for good this year and in years to come, or engage in other actions that invest in the future of our planet. You can also do your part by spreading the word about Earth Day and encouraging everyone you know to do big and small things in support of the Earth and all who inhabit it.  

No Yard? No Problem.

Indoor Gardening: Grow Houseplants, Veggies, and Herbs

Written by:

Laura Mueller